A Plea for Life

Every Rosh Hashanah, Hashem renews the chiyus, the life source of all creation. The Divine Will judges not only the physical existence of creation but the spiritual quality of this chiyus for man and creation.

Ruchniyus, while the quintessence of all being, is inherently non-tangible. The idea of a non-tangible world is far from abstract. In contrast to tangible matters that we can notice by our senses the non-tangible encompasses any reality that is only identifiable by its results, but whose actual workings are concealed.

Cyberspace, as it is known, has created a non-tangible world as well. Cyberspace is the ultimate mashal, of the true intangible world, the olam haruchani, the spiritual world. It is a phenomenon of our times that people do not only use cyberspace, but live more in this alternate reality, as much as, if not more than, they do in the physical world. This should have served as the ultimate opportunity for grasping the reality of ruchniyus.

It is unfortunate that the detection of that world effected the opposite. Until the advent of the internet, the world of ruchniyus maintained a unique and pure place in the thoughts of man. Cyberspace has blurred man’s ability to distinguish between the tangible and intangible worlds, and thereby corrupted his ability to relate to spiritual realities.

A tefillah that defines Rosh Hashanah, and indeed the entire Aseres Yemei Teshuvah, is Avinu Malkeinu.  The central part of this tefillah is the very statement that He is our Father and King. As such, the many requests that we make are an act of renewing our relationship to Hashem as our Father.

The devotion of a child to a father is completely natural and has no physical form whatsoever.  The Sefer Hatanya says that, similarly, every Jew has a natural love for Hashem implanted in his heart that he inherited from the Avos. One need not actively acquire this love, but need merely be receptive to it.

The corrupt use of the non-tangible world by technology has put us in danger of losing our connection and sensitivity to such spiritual realities and threatens the very foundations of our relationship with Hashem.

Chaim, life, is a constant theme in the tefillos of Rosh Hashanah. The SfasEmes writes that the words “Write us in the Book of Life, for Your sake,” that are inserted into the Shemoneh Esrei, is not be read as a request for just a year of life, but for life that is for Hashem’s sake, that is, a life dedicated to one’s relationship with Hakadosh Baruch Hu.

Much of our judgment on Rosh Hashanah, when every individual stands before the Kisei haKavod, is focused on how much we appreciate the world of ruchniyus. How much are we connected to it and which world do we want to belong to?

The Chofetz Chaim, zt”l, said that, to previous generations, concepts such as Olam Haba were nearly as real to people as the physical world that they lived in. However, an “enlightened” world had robbed many people of this natural connection to the spiritual. He said that inventions such as voice recordings and moving pictures served to present clear parables to the idea that all the actions of a man’s life are recorded and saved for his final judgment.

How much more so should the non-tangible reality of cyberspace improve our ability to relate to a world that is inaccessible to our five senses, and yet very real?

The challenge of every generation is custom made for it.  As we stand before Hashem to plead for a year of life, let us not be trapped by a counterfeit spiritual life, but rather remain loyal to the concept of “chaim le’maancha, for Your sake.” n